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What If No One Witnessed Your Workplace Injury?

March 12, 2020 |

A workplace injury can cause serious and fatal personal injuries. Catastrophic injuries occur in workplaces throughout Montana annually, across all industries. Common occupational injuries are bone fractures, pulled muscles, lacerations, burns, electric shocks, traumatic brain injuries and back/spinal cord injuries. In Montana, the workers’ compensation system will typically cover your injuries and related expenses without you needing to prove fault. Depending on the nature of your case, having no witnesses may or may not affect your claim.

What If an Insurance Company Denies Your Claim?

If you receive a letter of denial from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, a lack of witnesses could be the issue. The insurer will need to explain why it denied your claim. Having no witnesses to the accident or injury in question could be the reason the company gives for the denial. Other common reasons include failure to report your injury right away, missing facts or recklessness involved in causing your injury, such as your being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Many insurance companies might take issue with the fact that no one witnessed your workplace accident. If this occurs, ask your employer about any surveillance footage that might be available from the accident. This could serve as evidence during your workers’ compensation claim in Montana. If no footage/photographs are available, you might need to hire a lawyer to help you gather other forms of evidence instead. This could include accident reports or medical documents. Reporting your injury to your supervisor immediately could help you prove your case even without eyewitnesses available.

Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Claim

A lack of witnesses could also present a problem if you wish to file a personal injury claim rather than settle through the workers’ compensation system. A personal injury claim relies on the civil justice system, in which the burden of proof will rest with you as the claimant. It will be up to you or your work injury attorney to establish through a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant caused or substantially contributed to your injury. To meet this burden of proof, your lawyer will need to present evidence proving the defendant’s fault.

Without eyewitness statements, it will become even more important for your lawyer to gather other forms of evidence against the allegedly at-fault party. Your attorney will have to establish the defendant’s duty of care, negligence, causation for the accident and damages suffered. Only then will the defendant have to pay you compensation for your injuries, medical bills and other damages through a personal injury claim.

How Do I Appeal a Workers’ Compensation Decision?

If a workers’ compensation insurance company denies your claim on the grounds of an un-witnessed accident, you have the right to appeal the decision. First, contact the insurance company to get more details as to why it denied your claim. Ask the insurance company to officially reconsider its decision.

If this fails, file a formal appeal within Montana’s time limit. You will have two years to petition for a hearing with the Montana Workers’ Compensation Court. A Montana personal injury lawyer can help you with the official appeals process, including filling out and filing the correct paperwork by the deadline. Your attorney can help you gather evidence as to why an appeal is warranted, as well as represent you during a trial, if necessary.

You and your lawyer will attend a pretrial conference before going to a hearing in Montana. A judge will review your case, identify the essential issues and look at the evidence presented. Both sides will be able to offer evidence, witnesses and legal arguments. The judge will then make a decision on your case. Hiring a lawyer can assist you in getting around the potential issue of having no witnesses after a workplace accident and injury.